by Cassandra R. Elias
At 21-months-old, little Ryan is already checking things off his bucket list. Things like petting a puppy, riding a bike and getting a speeding ticket for going too fast in a hospital, where he spends far too much time.
Ryan Roberts' parents want him to spend the rest of his life to the fullest. He was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect; sadly, he doesn't have much time left on this earth.
When doctors told Ryan's parents that they couldn't do anything more to fix Ryan's heart, they stopped his supportive care and did what no parent ever wants to do -- declared him a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Mom Diane went to her Facebook page to let out her feelings.
Diane tells HLN, "People kept asking, 'What can I do for you?' We didn't want anything. We didn't want the people to bring stuffed animals and balloons. His room is filled with balloons."
Her suggestion was a simple one. Diane said, "Just go create a memory with your kids. Just go put a banana split down in front of your kids for dinner and watch their faces light up. No chicken, rice and broccoli tonight, just ice cream. They're going to remember that forever."
Her friend launched a Facebook event called "Ryan's Banana Split Party," asking people to fulfill Diane's wish. What started with just a handful of friends quickly exploded to over 20,000 people, who have pledged to hold their own banana split parties in Ryan’s honor.
"It's so crazy how this all started," she says. "I said something to one person about having a banana split with your family and about two weeks later there are 18,000 people on the Facebook page."
Families from around the country have posted messages of support along with pictures of their ice cream parties. You'll see McFlurrys at a McDonald's in Texas, banana splits on the last day of school in Vermont, Dippin’ Dots in Pennsylvania -- and on and on. It's hard to scroll through and not get a little teary-eyed at the overwhelming support from all of these people who have been touched by precious Ryan's story.
If you've been inspired and want to send your support to Ryan's family, it's easy to do. Click here for Ryan's Banana Split Party on Facebook and upload your words of encouragement and pictures right there on the wall.
This family reminds us that, whether it's ice cream for dinner, an extra bedtime story or anything out of the ordinary, sometimes we only need throw a bit of caution to the wind and do the smallest special thing with our children to make them feel special and loved.
Will you share a banana split with your family in Ryan's honor?